- +20% Caravan power
- +15% Movement speed
- +10% Trade efficiency
- +15% Morale of armies
- +1 Yearly legitimacy
- +1 Yearly prestige
- +10% Production efficiency
- +1 Land leader maneuver
- +1% Missionary strength
- +1 Land leader shock
Situation and opening moves
Air is a small country located on the northeastern most edge of Western Africa. It is home to endless deserts, large salt and wool fields and most importantly, bad puns. It is advisable to play with Air all the way to Diplomatic Technology level 22 just to experience the joy that comes from creating Earth, Fire and Water as client states.
Air begins the game with a 3-2-2 Monarch, Yunus Istanbulewa. In 1444, all of Air's provinces are Sunni Tuaregs and have very little to no Local Autonomy. This homogeneous setup will help greatly in dealing with rebellions. Starting in 1444, Air is bordered by Yao, Katsina and Kanem Bornu to its south and Songhai to its west. Of these, Songhai is probably the biggest and the strongest.
However, Air is not completely surrounded by enemies and Timbuktu and Macina might turn out to be useful allies against the Songhai. Thus, it is important to use both diplomats and ally these two nations as soon as possible.
The biggest problem for Air in the early stages of the game will probably be money, since most of its provinces have low development and produce either Wool or Salt, both of which aren't that expensive commodities. The money problems can probably resolved by taking over the Dye provinces of Katsina and Kano to the south but going west through Songhai and attacking Timbuktu is also possible. For the purposes of this guide, we will talk about the latter strategy.
War with Songhai
Air cannot take Songhai on its own, let alone Songhai and Songhai's allies. Therefore, Air needs allies of its own. As mentioned in the previous section, Timbuktu and Macina make good allies. Mossi also tends to hate Songhai and can be used in the war. Mali is another good ally but tends to be friendly with Songhai, so don't count on them.
After getting these nations as allies and building the army up to or even beyond force limit, the only thing Air actually needs for the war is a proper casus belli. One can be found in a mission that tends to be available from the beginning in the form of a "Save the Tuareg people in Azawagh" mission. Using the claimed gained from this mission, Air can attack the Songhai whenever.
Songhai will probably bring allies of its own, these allies can range from two province minors like Kong to medium-sized states like Yao and Kanem Bornu. The key to victory here is ignoring these allies and getting to the main Songhai army before they can get to Air's allies. Defeating them in this first battle or even better, splitting their army and defeating it separately will kill the Songhai's ability to fight back. After defeating them once and for all, simply occupy them and let Air's allies hunt down any small stacks that might appear.
After defeating the Songhai, Air might want to take a look at their allies. If they have brought in some state like Kanem Bornu or Katsina, it is possible to take a province or two here and there from these allies. Air might also want to vassalise a couple of allies for further feeding.
After the war with Songhai in the future it may be possible to take them as a vassal. Do not let them grow too powerful in relation to Air or they risk rebellions against their overlord.
Dominance over west Africa
Air alone is not a beast, it has low development and not so good national traditions and is surrounded by enemies on all sides. Air and Songhai however is pretty strong, a regional power on its own right. Which will cause the other regional power, Mali to get restless. But there are many countries and more provinces between Air and Mali. Thus, Air has a long way to go before it gets anywhere near Mali and with every step it takes, it will get stronger.
After Songhai, the logical next step to do is expanding towards Kanem Bornu and Yao in order to secure the South-Eastern border. Vassalizing Kanem Bornu and feeding them their Yao cores and Katsina claims helps with this. From there on it is possible to jump southwards to Benin or attack Mossi to keep Songhai vassals busy. In the end, it all serves towards a single purpose: Getting stronger in order to take on Mali.
Once Air is strong enough to take on Mali, go for it. Unlike almost all West African countries, Mali can not be annexed or vassalized in a single war. Occupying their land for a few years in order to drive up autonomy or releasing Kaabu through a rebellion or otherwise are two ways to get through this obstacle but they are unreliable at best. Therefore, taking a few provinces and waiting for the second war to vassalizing or annexing the rest is a good idea. Come what may, after Mali has fallen, Air will be left as the supreme ruler of West Africa.
To the south, Kongo lies in isolation and is easily reachable by land. To the north lays Morocco, Algiers and Tunisia. Further expansion requires Air to Reform the Government. A good idea would be to take up Exploration ideas and colonise Brazil.